“And it’s too late for you to be punished for anything,” ses Peter, arter a moment.
Bill Jones groaned agin, and then, shaking ’is ’ead, began to w’isper ’is wrong-doings. When the doctor came in ’arf an hour arterward all the men was as quiet as mice, and pore Bill was still w’ispering as ’ard as he could w’isper.
The doctor pushed ’em out of the way in a moment, and then ’e bent over Bill and felt ’is pulse and looked at ’is tongue. Then he listened to his ’art, and in a puzzled way smelt at the bottle, which Jasper Potts was a-minding of, and wetted ’is finger and tasted it.
[Illustration: “The doctor felt ’is pulse and looked at ’is tongue.”]
“Somebody’s been making a fool of you and me too,” he ses, in a angry voice. “It’s only gin, and very good gin at that. Get up and go home.”
It all came out next morning, and Joe Barlcomb was the laughing-stock of the place. Most people said that Mrs. Prince ’ad done quite right, and they ’oped that it ud be a lesson to him, but nobody ever talked much of witchcraft in Claybury agin. One thing was that Bill Jones wouldn’t ’ave the word used in ’is hearing.
Mr. Richard Catesby, second officer of the ss. Wizard, emerged from the dock-gates in high good-humour to spend an evening ashore. The bustle of the day had departed, and the inhabitants of Wapping, in search of coolness and fresh air, were sitting at open doors and windows indulging in general conversation with any-body within earshot.
[Illustration: “Mr. Richard Catesby, second officer of the ss. Wizard, emerged from the dock-gates in high good-humour.”]
Mr. Catesby, turning into Bashford’s Lane, lost in a moment all this life and colour. The hum of distant voices certainly reached there, but that was all, for Bashford’s Lane, a retiring thoroughfare facing a blank dock wall, capped here and there by towering spars, set an example of gentility which neighbouring streets had long ago decided crossly was impossible for ordinary people to follow. Its neatly grained shutters, fastened back by the sides of the windows, gave a pleasing idea of uniformity, while its white steps and polished brass knockers were suggestive of almost a Dutch cleanliness.
Mr. Catesby, strolling comfortably along, stopped suddenly for another look at a girl who was standing in the ground-floor window of No. 5. He went on a few paces and then walked back slowly, trying to look as though he had forgotten something. The girl was still there, and met his ardent glances unmoved: a fine girl, with large, dark eyes, and a complexion which was the subject of much scandalous discussion among neighbouring matrons.
“It must be something wrong with the glass, or else it’s the bad light,” said Mr. Catesby to himself; “no girl is so beautiful as that.”